Archbishop Jose Ignacio Munilla Aguirre of San Sebastian, Spain expressed hope that Blessed John Paul II will inspire young people in Spain to attend World Youth Day 2011.
Archbishop Munilla Aguirre told CNA that while large numbers of young people from abroad have registered for the event, the response from Spain has been slow.
“We have the impression that the international presence in Spain is going to be the greatest of all the World Youth Days,” he said in the May 1 interview.
The archbishop, who is also the director of the youth ministry department of the Spanish bishops’ conference, said the main challenge is motivating young people in Spain to attend.
“The number of those coming from abroad is high, but right now we don’t have any idea about the Spanish young people. In recent years they have endured a deluge of very strong and harsh secularization.
“We are praying to John Paul II for his intercession, that he touch the hearts of those who need to be touched so that they will come,” he added.
Archbishop Munilla Aguirre said it was still “too early” to make predictions about the turnout, however 300,000 have already signed up. The archbishop noted that this means “things are going well.”
The arrival of the World Youth Day cross in Spain has stirred up enthusiasm in many dioceses, he continued, “and the preparations to receive the pilgrims coming from abroad have led to an increase in the number of volunteers.”
Pope John Paul II gave the cross to young people in 1986 and exhorted them to carry it to proclaim that only in Christ can mankind find salvation and redemption.
“The Spanish Bishops’ Conference is totally committed to what John Paul II put into motion,” Archbishop Munilla Aguirre said.